In case you didn’t know, August is National Immunization Awareness Month! While this may not seem like a cause for celebration at first glance, perhaps it should be. We are so lucky to live in a time where medical science and immunizations can protect Americans from many infectious diseases. Whether it be polio, mumps, or diphtheria, we have vaccinations to thank for not getting them. However, we are now seeing a disturbing trend emerge. In 2019 there has been a total of 1,182 confirmed cases of measles across thirty different states in the U.S. In fact, this is the highest number of cases reported since 2000, when the CDC declared the disease eliminated. The question begs: how then, did we get here?
The answer is vaccinations. Or in this case, the lack of vaccinations. Over the past decade, there has been a rise in what is now referred to as the anti-vaccination movement. This movement has been responsible for spreading disinformation, which has resulted in a decline in vaccination rates. This unfortunate state of affairs has caused a rise in infectious diseases. Therefore, it seems only fitting that we break down the three most commonly stated myths about vaccinations and do our part to help spread the truth.
Myth #1: Vaccinations cause autism
This myth comes from a study that was published in a medical journal in 1998. The study was later discredited and revealed many ethical and procedural violations. Since then, multiple studies have found no connection between vaccinations and the possibility of developing autism. Unfortunately, the publication triggered a widespread panic that continues to make some parents wary of getting their children vaccinated. The bottom line: vaccinations do not cause autism.
Myth #2: Vaccination schedules overload children’s immune systems
Vaccine critics say that the CDC’s immunization schedule recommends too many vaccines in too short a time frame. The fact is, a baby’s immune system is more resilient than we think and in theory, can handle many more vaccinations in the same time frame. Viruses and bacteria found in vaccines are negligible compared to the countless exposures infants experience every single day.
Myth #3: Healthy people don’t need vaccinations
Diseases like the flu or measles can affect anyone, including healthy people. “Herd immunity” generally protects unvaccinated people in communities as long as a large population is vaccinated, preventing the disease from thriving. But, with the rising trend in people choosing not to be vaccinated, this herd immunity is starting to fail. The best way that we can protect our children and communities is by educating ourselves on the value of immunizations and their tremendous contribution to saving lives over the years. The CDC provides many useful resources on vaccines and immunizations. Additionally, you can talk to your pharmacist or doctor to get more information and have your questions answered.
So, in conclusion, please do not fall victim to the myths and disinformation surrounding vaccinations. Vaccinations exist for the sole purpose of keeping people healthy — not to infect them. Don’t take my word for it? Explore the various and credible resources out there, which will all confirm this notion. If you have any questions about vaccinations, do not hesitate to ask your local pharmacist. They will be able to set the record straight and hopefully, vaccinate you and your loved ones.